Unsafe for Democracy: World War I And The U.s. Justice Department's Covert Campaign To Suppress…

Hardcover | October 8, 2008

byWilliam H. Thomas

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During the First World War it was the task of the U.S. Department of Justice, using the newly passed Espionage Act and its later Sedition Act amendment, to prosecute and convict those who opposed America’s entry into the conflict. In Unsafe for Democracy, historian William H. Thomas Jr. shows that the Justice Department did not stop at this official charge but went much further—paying cautionary visits to suspected dissenters, pressuring them to express support of the war effort, or intimidating them into silence. At times going undercover, investigators tried to elicit the unguarded comments of individuals believed to be a threat to the prevailing social order.
In this massive yet largely secret campaign, agents cast their net wide, targeting isolationists, pacifists, immigrants, socialists, labor organizers, African Americans, and clergymen. The unemployed, the mentally ill, college students, schoolteachers, even schoolchildren, all might come under scrutiny, often in the context of the most trivial and benign activities of daily life.
            Delving into numerous reports by Justice Department detectives, Thomas documents how, in case after case, they used threats and warnings to frighten war critics and silence dissent. This early government crusade for wartime ideological conformity, Thomas argues, marks one of the more dubious achievements of the Progressive Era—and a development that resonates in the present day.

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During the First World War it was the task of the U.S. Department of Justice, using the newly passed Espionage Act and its later Sedition Act amendment, to prosecute and convict those who opposed America’s entry into the conflict. In Unsafe for Democracy, historian William H. Thomas Jr. shows that the Justice Department did not stop at...

William H. Thomas Jr., an independent scholar, received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He lives in O’Fallon, Illinois.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 8, 2008Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299228908

ISBN - 13:9780299228903

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Table of Contents

Contents
 
Illustrations      
Acknowledgements     
 
Introduction                 
1. Setting the Stage      
2. Methods and Ideology         
3. Policing the Clergy   
4. Policing the Left       
5. Policing Wisconsin   
6. Vigilantism   
Epilogue          
 
Appendix: Biographical Information of Justice Department Investigators in Wisconsin    
Notes  
Bibliography    
Index    

Editorial Reviews

“A well-researched, richly detailed account of the US government’s illiberal and covert wartime activities. . . .What the book does suggest, and quite powerfully, is how war can cause a country to jettison its core principles and, in so doing, undermine the values that compelled it to fight in the first place.”—Jonathan Rosenberg, The International Historical Review